The Transept Chapel of the Mother of God

Although her icon appears in several places in the Cathedral, the Mother of God has had the north arm of the transept dedicated to her.

The Annunciation of MaryThe Annunciation is depicted in the centre of the ceiling of the transept apse. Mary is standing with crossed arms and head bent forward, as she listens to the message brought by the Archangel Gabriel; he is show as a handsome young man holding a lily.

On one side of the Annunciation scene is the Ark of the Covenant, the sacred portable chest of acacia wood and gold, which in the Old Testament contained the tables of the Commandments. It has become a Christian symbol of Mary, who became the tabernacle of the Son of God. On the opposite side is a painting of a harp entwined with periwinkle. The harp symbolized Mary’s royal descent from King David.

Above the Annunciation, on the apse ceiling in a circle of light, the Holy Spirit is depicted as a dove, with shafts of light illuminating the Blessed mother, the tabernacle and the harp. There are also two other symbolic ornaments – the anchor and the lily. The anchor, at the top of which is a cross and the initials of the Mother of God, is an ancient symbol of hope, and is related to Mary, “the hope of Christians.” The lily, entwined with a thorn branch, symbolizes Mary’s innocence and suffering.

The Betrothal of Mary and Joseph

In addition to the Annunciation, Prof. Bucmaniuk painted four other large scenes from Mary’s life in the north transept.

The Betrothal of Mary and Joseph is set against the background of the Jerusalem Temple. Mary and her attendants stand to the right of the high priest, and Joseph and his attendants to his left. Joseph is holding a lily in one hand and placing a ring on Mary’s finger with the other.

The Nativity of ChristThe Nativity of Christ is depicted in a cave, illumined by a shaft of life from the star. The infant Jesus is resting on a bed of hay. Mary’s countenance radiates peace, whereas Joseph’s eyes betray a concern. Shepherds, lambs, and ox and a donkey complete the scene.

The Meeting of our LordThe Meeting of our Lord shows Jesus, His mother, Joseph, Simeon and Anna in the temple according to the Gospel’s description of the event (Luke 2:22-39). The devout Simeon is holding the infant Jesus and uttering his canticle, Nunc Dimittis. Joseph is holding a pair of pigeons – the offering made by the poor, when redeeming their first-born male child, who had to be consecrated to the Lord (Exodus 13:11-13).

The Dormition of the Mother of GodThe Dormition of the Mother of God is painted on the ceiling between the nave and the transept. Untraditionally, the Blessed Mother is depicted alone, without the the Apostles. With hands folded, she is gazing towards heaven. The background for this painting consists of the wings of four angels.

Below the Dormition is a scene of Edmonton showing St. Josaphat’s pioneer church, and the new Cathedral, with a guardian angel hovering over it.

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